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Boutique Bass Builder: Hiro Miura

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Boutique Bass Builder - Hiro Miura

Boutique Bass Builder: Hiro Miura

Hiro Miura once dreamt of using his hands to pilot the controls of jets as he flew across the globe at supersonic speeds. Now, his hands are used to fulfill the dreams of musicians. In a small workshop near the Van Nuys airport, he makes guitars and basses that transmit his craftsmanship around the world at the speed of sound.

Boutique Bass Builder - Hiro Miura-1
The man who designed and built instruments for such musical icons as Carmine Rojas, Chuck Rainey, John Pena, Chris Duarte, and Katsuji Morioka, never saw himself as a world renowned builder. He simply wanted to fly airplanes.

Life has a funny way of pushing you in one direction while making you think you are going in another. The aspirations of youth are often rerouted when the world interjects itself in your reality. Cowboys become accountants. Rock stars become convenience store clerks. And pilots become instrument makers.

Miura had always enjoyed playing guitars as a hobby and never gave the instrument much thought until he lost interest in attending college. He dropped out to become a guitar salesman for Moon Guitars in Japan. He stepped foot on that path at a time when the Yen trumped the U.S. dollar and the Japanese craze for vintage American guitars in the early 1980s was just taking off.

He was sent to America to buy vintage guitars and bring them back for resale Japan. After a few years of hopping back and forth across the Pacific, he decided to make Los Angeles his home in 1986.

While buying, selling, and studying vintage guitars, he befriended custom guitar builder Taku Sakashita.

“I told him about my design ideas for a new guitar head and body,” recalls Miura. “Taku built the first one for me and then showed me how to make it myself.”

Miura and Sakashita were often joined by the legendary bass builder Nicholas Tung. The trio would share ideas and experiment with various designs and building concepts. It was that experience of working with master luthiers that inspired Miura to build and later launch his own brand, Xotic Guitars, in 1996.

Unlike other builders, Miura didn’t design his guitars to showcase his artistic abilities. His passion was, and continues to be, creating an instrument that allows the musician to play without concentrating on the physical act of doing so. In other words, he wanted to create the tools that lent themselves to effortless mastery.

After 18 years with Xotic, Miura decided it was time for a change. He left Xotic and started Miura Guitars in August 2014. He is the sole employee and his personal motto is reflected in his mission statement: “Never complete, keep evolving.”

“I have no plans to bring on any other employees. I’d rather do the work myself,” said Miura. “It’s not hard to have someone make the instrument. But even if we use the same wood and the same parts, theirs will sound different than mine. I want to make sure every instrument that leaves my shop sounds the way I want it to sound.”

Miura currently builds two bass models that he designed with playability and tone as his top priorities: the MB-2 (below) and the MB-1 (shown at top of article).

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“The MB-2 is my simple bass. I don’t like many decorations and I want a simple instrument that the working musician can afford,” said Miura. “Many basses are headstock heavy so it’s hard for the bass player, and more stressful, for longer playing. I don’t want you to think about the instrument. I want you to think about the music.”

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The MB-2 has an ash (or alder) body with a 34-inch scale (22-fret) maple neck and maple or Pau Ferro fingerboard. Miura uses Hip Shot Type-B bridges and Aguilar Super Singles pickups and an Aguilar OBP-3 pre-amp. The control set up features a master volume, pickup blender pot, master tone, with mini pots for active eq (bass, mid, treble). The mini-switch allows for plus/minus 16 dB @ 400Hz or 800 Hz.

Miura considers his MB-1 to be his flagship model. It features an angled head stock, 24 frets and uses either the Hipshot Type-A, Type-B and Badass (5-string only) bridge. Top wood choices are olive, quilted maple, maple burl, walnut, mahogany, as well as other premium woods. Fingerboard options are maple and Madagascar rosewood.

The electronics are upgraded to higher end Aguilar, Delano, Bartolini, or Kent Armstrong for pickups, and East, Glocken, or Michael Pope for preamps.

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Miura’s guitars and basses are currently built to order. “There are not many companies doing it with one person,” said Miura, laughing. “I make the body and the neck. The paint is done outside. But other than that, I touch every part myself.”

“When luthiers work by themselves, one instrument is very expensive and usually not within reach of most working musicians. I want to make top quality instruments that are affordable for people who will play them. That’s why I can only make about eight guitars or basses a month.”

Miura often drives five hours north of his workshop to find the right wood to use in his instruments. “It would be nice to just be able to make 10 necks and 10 bodies and put them together. But I can’t do that. I have to find the right wood that balances that particular instrument’s body with the neck. Wood has very different properties. It can have the same weight and be physically balanced, but still not sound right. I have to choose the right wood to make a good bass sound great.”

For more information about Miura Guitars, visit his website at www.miuraguitars.com.

Gear News

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)…

Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder probably had many things in mind when painting his Hunters in the Snow in oil on oak wood in 1565. This masterpiece tells plenty of little stories about winterly pastimes and precarious livelihoods in the Early Modern Age. What Bruegel presumably did not have in mind was that this painting would, several centuries later, become one of the most popular ones in fine arts globally, displayed in a permanent exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) Vienna. The painting’s popularity was lately taken to a different level as it was replicated by hand to design an exclusive BITE bass.

An international art collector and bass player who regularly visits Vienna to immerse himself in the wonderworld of Kunsthistorisches’ Bruegel Hall asked BITE to replicate the painting on a bass body. BITE Guitars, an Austrian premium manufacturer exporting most of their basses to the US, has become renowned for colorful artwork basses, offering a range of manual and digital techniques. The firm’s art director Peter, a trained scenic painter of Oscar and Palme d’Or rank, specializes in photo-realistic reproductions. He also painted the bass for Robbie Williams’ 2023 world tour by faithfully replicating Robbie’s own stage design onto the tour bass.

Peter copied the Bruegel motif onto the bass body in minute detail, little twigs even by one-hair-brush. Positioning the rectangular image section on the body shape proved to be a special challege that he met by repositioning little elements, a bird here, a horse and cart there.

It all came together in a memorable video shooting in front of the original painting in the Museum’s Bruegel Hall: venerable fine arts, premium handicraft and groovy jazz tunes.

View video at the museum: www.youtube.com/shorts/2evdqfR6gUE

What’s the conclusion of BITE’s client, our Vienna, art and bass lover? “It’s a magical bass! When I touch the strings, I feel warm inside.”

Specs highlights:
Bass model: BITE Evening Star, the proprietary BITE premium model with inward curved horns
Pickups: 2 x BITE 1000 millivolt passive split-coils (PP)
Neck: roasted maple neck and roasted flamed maple fretboard

Price tag incl. insured door-to-door express shipping:
New York: 4726 USD
London: 3645 GBP
Berlin: 4965 EUR

Full specs available at bite.guitars/old-master-bass/

Bruegel Hall at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna: 
khm.at/en/visit/collections/picture-gallery/the-best-of-bruegel-only-in-vienna/

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Gear News

New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

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New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar…

Black Ice Enterprises introduces Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort, small, battery-free devices that can be easily installed in a bass or guitar.

Black Ice Boost offers two selectable stages of up to 7 dB of boost, broadly concentrated in the midrange frequencies to add humbucker-like qualities to Strat®, Tele® and other types of single-coil pickups. Black Ice Distort is an overdrive module that can be configured to offer anything from slight overdrive to distortion. Both models are compatible with all passive guitar pickups and electronics (they’re not compatible with battery-powered active pickups).

Black Ice Boost (SRP: $119.95; MAP, $79.95) can be installed using several wiring options, including a simple “stealth” install that utilizes a single push-pull pot, and a dual-switch option that allows users to select between two different levels of boost. For those using the boost along with Black Ice Distort, a second push-pull pot or switch can be used to select a clean or distorted boost.

The Black Ice Boost module is approximately 2/3 the size of a 9-volt battery, and can be easily installed in most instruments with no routing or permanent modifications required. The tone of the instrument remains completely unaffected when the boost is bypassed.

In addition to use with popular single-coil pickups, Black Ice Boost can also be used with other pickup types. Use it to fatten up a P-90 style pickup, or add girth to a low-wind humbucker. Jazz Bass® players can use the additional midrange content provided by Black Ice Boost to produce a sound that’s reminiscent of a P-Bass® or soapbar-type pickup. Black Ice Boost is not recommended for use with high-output humbuckers and other dark-sounding pickups.

Black Ice Distort (SRP: $27.95; MAP, $21.95) is an overdrive module that can be configured for just a touch of grit, or a more aggressive grind, all the way to a 1960’s-flavored fuzz. While its battery-free circuit will never replace the more refined sound of a well-designed pedal, it provides handy, there-when-you-need-it access to a variety of fun old-school flavors, and is a great way to add additional textures to an already overdriven amp or pedal. Bass players will especially dig its raw dirty grind.

Like Black Ice Boost, the sugar-cube-sized Black Ice Distort provides a lifetime of tone with no maintenance or power source required. A variety of wiring options are included that let you activate the Distort via a switch or push-pull pot, or by easily converting your guitar’s tone control into a control for the Black Ice Distort circuit. It can be used in conjunction with the Black Ice Boost for a wide variety of useful tones.

Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort are now shipping.

Visit online at www.blackiceoverdrive.com

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @loritabassworks @meridian_guitars @alpherinstruments @phdbassguitars @mgbassguitars @mauriziouberbasses @utreraguitars @sugi_guitars @branco_luthier @blasiusguitars

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

D’Addario’s New Humidipak Absorb Protects Instruments Against Excess Moisture…

Utilizing two-way humidity control technology, D’Addario’s new Humidipak Absorb protects against damage to wooden instruments in environments with too much humidity. 

Humidipak Absorb allows players to safely return an instrument and case to the ideal relative humidity level. Using Boveda’s patented two-way humidity control technology, Absorb automatically soaks up excess moisture at a safe rate, re-establishing the right humidity level and eliminating the guesswork of revitalizing your instrument. 

Like all the Humidipaks before, using Humidipak Absorb is easy—there’s no dripping sponges or manual adjustments. All players need to do is put the humidification packets in the included pouches and place them in the instrument case, close the lid, and relax. The instrument and case will remain at the optimal 45-50% relative humidity level for 2-6 months. 

D’Addario’s other Humidipaks, Restore and Maintain, are still available for those who need to increase and sustain the humidity around their instrument. 

To learn more about Humidipak Absorb, visit ddar.io/absorb-pr 

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